Thursday, October 8, 2009

Mother (nature) knows best!

The benefits of breastmilk are well known, but it never ceases to amaze me the new advantages to breastfeeding that are being discovered every day! A new study published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience 1 shows that breastmilk changes quite markedly throughout the course of a day to meet a baby's needs (something that formula cannot do). This study found that the levels of certain nucleotides (adenosine, guanosine, and uridine) varied throughout a 24 hour period and peaked in the breastmilk that was produced during the evening (8 pm to 8 am). These nucleotides are thought to promote restfulness and to help induce sleep in babies. Therefore, the increased levels of these nucleotides in the evening milk could play a role in helping babies relax and sleep. The researchers noted that this would mean that expressed breast milk should be fed to the baby at around the same time of day that it was expressed because "it has day-specific ingredients that stimulate activity in the infant, and other night-time components that help the baby to rest". Fascinating!

1 Sánchez et al. The possible role of human milk nucleotides as sleep inducers. Nutritional Neuroscience, 2009; 12 (1): 2 DOI: 10.1179/147683009X388922

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